Summer Vacation 2018 - Our Road Trip to Nova Scotia

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
— Anthony Bourdain

I love travel. It’s almost an addiction at this point, as I continue to put together lists and ideas of new places to discover, new experiences to be collected.

Last summer we spent 3.5 weeks backpacking around Europe (Sardinia, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, and Slovenia) and it was too much. I overdid it. This year the kids begged for a slower pace. Hence, Cape Breton Island - beautiful, remote, full of amazing hiking trails and not much else. But it was 1200 miles away. Luckily, I love a road trip . . .

Part 1 - Cape Cod and Boston, MA

I had a photshoot close to Cape Cod, MA (you can see the photos here) so we started our vacation out at a Hampton Inn in Fairhaven, MA. The weather was overcast/rainy, but we still managed to see the area (dinner at Mystic Pizza filled me with happiness). And then we headed to Boston for a few days - checking out the Isabelle Stewart Gardner museum, Freedom Trail tour, and biking around Cambridge.

Part II - Essex, MA

My sister-in-law rented a house in Essex, MA with her sister and we stopped to visit. The kids had a blast running around with their cousins and their cousins’ cousins.

Part III - Bay of Fundy, Canada

We camped for two nights in this GORGEOUS Canadian National Park. And it rained the whole time. At first, the weather made me pretty miserable, but then I realized my kids were forced to hang out with me in a small tented space and I was crazy happy. We read books, hiked in the rain, ate lobster, and used the word “damp” way too much.

Part IV - Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Dingwall)

Dan’s parents rented us all a gorgeous house for a week. It was off a dirt road, on beautiful bay and at night there were no other lights. It felt like the edge of the world. Well, a luxury version of the edge of the world. The house didn’t have a TV (though there was internet) - so we played cards, Life, and Monopoly. It felt great to do “nothing” a lot of the time. Though by the end of our week there - I really missed “real” groceries stores, movie theaters, and other signs of city life.

Part V - Coastal Trail & Franey - Cape Breton Island National Park

We spent most of our time in Cape Breton lounging and hiking (there wasn’t much else to do there). The scenery was AMAZING and T loved canoeing around the bay. Dan found a place that sold lobsters for $10 Canadian/pound so we ate A LOT of lobster and mussels, which was great at first but even luxuries become old after awhile (except Dan, who could eat lobster every night for the rest of his life).

Part VI - Fishing Cove & Skyline Trails - Cape Breton Island National Park

Dan’s parents watched the kids for a night so Dan and I could backpack overnight into fishing cove, which was GORGEOUS. We sat on the beach drinking rum and cokes, watching the sunset. Best date night ever. Plus, waking up to quite and sunshine made me remember everything I love about backpacking.

At the end of the week, Dan’s aunt and uncle came to stay with us and we ended our trip with a hike on Skyline Trail - one of Cape Breton’s most scenic (and most crowded) hikes.

Honestly, I was a little worried how I’d feel about staying in the same place for a week, but we all ended up having a fantastic and relaxing time.

Part VII - Cape Breton to Acadia National Park (Maine).

11 hours of driving in two days. That’s about all there is to say. We had heard Acadia becomes crowded in the summer, but it still felt discombobulating to sit in crazy traffic after leaving the middle of nowhere (but Bar Harbor is a fantastic town).

Part VIII - Acadia National Park

For a vacation grand finale (and, really, doesn’t every vacation need a grand finale?) - we woke up at 2 am and hiked 5 miles up Cadillac Mountain to see the sunrise. Hiking in the dark felt surreal, especially above treeline, like were on the moon. It was probably one of our best times together ever as a family.

But then . . .

The fog rolled in and there was no sunrise. We knew this was a possibility, but since we only stayed in Acadia for two nights we risked it and lost. There was a lot of disappointment and sadness for awhile, but eventually the fog cleared and the hike down was pretty amazing (10 miles round trip). We then went out for breakfast at 2Cats and vegged the rest of the day away (so much tiredness).

Part IX - The end

We spent a final morning in Acadia hiking and then began the long drive back to Arlington, VA. We spent one night in Portsmouth, NH, which was such a cute small town - the perfect place to celebrate the end of our northern east coast road trip.

And then, of course, we arrived home and I immediately started to plan next summer’s adventures.


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